The Inland Press Foundation has awarded two Kansas newspapers grants to strengthen their local news reporting.
The grants will go to the Eureka Herald and the Council Grove Republican to add to their reporting staffs.
Inland partnered with the Kansas Press Association to promote the Inland Community News Grants to newspapers in the Wheat State.
Inland launched the program in December 2021 in response to the decline in the number of journalists at daily and non-daily newspapers in the United States.
The number of reporters at U.S. newspapers declined by more than 50 percent in over the last decade. In addition to Kansas, Inland also has launched a similar program in Illinois.
The foundation hopes to expand the grant program beyond those two states in the coming months.
After its announcement in December, the foundation began accepting applications from daily and non-daily newspapers in January.
The grants will fund newspaper reporting on critical topics such as schools and education, local government, health care, the environment, and infrastructure.
They will cover half the cost of adding a reporter to a newspaper’s staff. The newspaper will pay the remaining half of that salary. Inland will fund the grants for two years.
Inland Foundation President Marc Wilson said he was inspired by the applications.
“Reading the grant applications reinforced my belief in the compelling need to support local journalism,” he said. “Local reporting is critical to the health of our communities and our democracy. We were pleased to provide these grants, but it’s sad that we didn’t have the resources to help all the struggling community newspapers.”
“We are grateful to Tom and the Inland Foundation for choosing Kansas as one of the first states to be a part of this generous grant program,” said Emily Bradbury, executive director of the KPA.
Jan Sciacca is the owner and publisher of the 149-year-old Council Grove Republican
She said, “This grant will make a lasting and profound difference in our coverage.”
Sciacca said she was thrilled by the opportunity that the Inland grant offers to expand coverage to nearby rural areas that are underserved or no longer served by community newspapers.
“Readers are hungry for local news, feature articles, historical information, government news and school sports that are not available elsewhere,” she said.
Robin Wunderlich, editor and publisher of the Eureka Herald said, “I’m beyond excited to have been named a recipient of the Inland Press Foundation grant. We’ve been looking at expanding our coverage, but have been unable to take the leap due to financials.”
She said the grant will allow her to increase coverage of neighboring city council meetings, to dive deeper into articles, and bring positive feature stories back to the Herald on a regular basis.
Inland Executive Director Tom Slaughter thanked the Kansas Press Association for its support and promotion of the program to its members.
Slaughter said, “KPA has been a valuable partner in this initiative, and we could not have rolled this out without the full support and encouragement of the KPA and its membership. We’re delighted that KPA was willing to partner with us to bring this program to newspapers in Kansas.”
Slaughter said donations to the Community News Grant program may be made to the Inland Press Foundation at P.O. Box 3790, Lawrence, KS 66046, or to https://www.inlandfoundation.org/contribute/. Donations are tax deductible.
The Inland Press Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit incorporated in Illinois
Over the last 40 years, the foundation has played a prominent and active role in organizing and funding programs to provide research and educational services to the American newspaper industry, with a special focus on independent and family-owned newspapers.